KE Awards finalist nomination – Commercialisation Award

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Zinc shortlisted for 2023 KE Awards for their collaboration with City, University of London on commercialisation of “Eyecatcher” research

Zinc, a leading venture builder and venture capital firm, is thrilled to announce its shortlisting for the prestigious Commercialisation Award at the 2023 KE Awards, organised by Praxis Auril.

This is in recognition of Zinc’s outstanding partnership with City, University of London on commercialising the ‘Eyecatcher’ research through the commercial vehicle of a spinout, Irida Health. This collaboration represents a groundbreaking model of academia and industry working hand in hand to translate cutting-edge research into real-world impact.

Revolutionising Vision Care: Introducing “Eyecatcher” by Irida Health

After eight years of dedicated research, the academic team led by Dr. Peter Jones at City University, developed ‘The Eyecatcher’, a digital home-monitoring device for glaucoma patients, a solution combining hardware and software for at-home vision field assessments. This innovative technology, comprising smart glasses and an Android phone, empowers patients to conduct vision field assessments at home.

Zinc & City University Collaboration

Navigating the complexities of commercialisation, the ‘Eyecatcher’ team with the support of City University TTO, initially sought licensing avenues with pharmaceutical entities. Challenges arose as the focus remained on in-clinic assessments. Recognising this, the ‘Eyecatcher’ team pivoted towards a spinout model, where the team secured the Healthy Ageing Catalyst Accelerator award, granting six months of intensive support and a dedicated Venture Manager from Zinc.

TTO expertise

A pivotal figure in cementing this partnership was Powlami Ghosh, IP and commercialisation consultant at City. From acquiring HEIF funding for prototypes to steering the spinout direction, Ghosh’s expertise was indispensable.

Powlami said:
“Thanks to the Zinc Catalyst team for providing the academic team with the necessary resources – be it funding or expert advice on investments/raising finance. I personally would like to see us collaborating more in future.” 

Zinc’s Integral Role

Zinc’s contribution was multifaceted. Financially, they injected an initial £60k, followed by £100k from UKRI, facilitating tech development, team establishment, and business model refinement. 

With guidance from their Zinc Venture Manager, Baiqu Gonkar, the ‘Eyecatcher’ team maintained momentum, attracting a commercial founding team, and were able to define commercialisation and fundraising strategies. Furthermore, Zinc’s vast network in London and beyond was crucial, connecting the team to invaluable resources, industry experts, external investors, and securing additional funding from the Design Age Institute. Lastly, Zinc supported Irida through equity split and cap table structuring, eventually leading to a successful spinout formation as Irida Health, with ‘Eyecatcher’ as its initial product offering. 

Baiqu said:

“As the Venture Manager at Zinc, working with City has been a testament to how quickly progress happens when academia and industry converge. From the intricacies of the spinout process to the collaborative efforts in integrating an external CEO and COO, our joint partnership has been key to accelerating the pathway for ground breaking research to create real world impact.” 

Stephen Hicks, CEO at Irida Health, said:

“As the external CEO stepping into Irida Health, I’ve really appreciated Zinc’s support. Their expertise and network combined with open communication with City University’s TTO, has streamlined the spinout process, and ensured that we have best chance possible for commercial success”

Impact & Collaboration Results

This joint venture between City, University of London, and Zinc has achieved success in multiple dimensions. Notably, the Irida Health spinout stands to create significant societal impact whilst revolutionising the visual field testing at home. This project bolsters the University’s reputation as an innovative powerhouse, while underscoring Zinc’s expertise in commercialising research, and highlighting the potential for more collaborations with research institutions in the future. 

For further information, please contact:

Baiqu Gonkar: baiqu@zinc.vc

About Zinc: 

Zinc is a leading mission-driven venture builder and venture capital firm committed to nurturing and accelerating groundbreaking, research-led startups. With an expert team of founders, academics, IP and commercialisation experts – alongside its network of mentors, investors and partners in the healthcare industry -, Zinc commercialisation programmes provide essential support to transform research into impact.

About City, University of London: 

City, University of London is a leading global institution, dedicated to academic excellence, focused on business and the professions, and located in the heart of London. City has a strong tradition of research, and the ‘Eyecatcher’ project exemplifies the University’s commitment to translating academic knowledge into real-world solutions.

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